Having never had the chance to lead a group – let alone one with the energy, creativity and great spirit of Food Forward, today was humbling indeed.
As massive clouds gathered, the biggest storm system in a year on its way through LA, I awoke knowing we had a small window to get through our last picks of the final weekend of our first fiscal fruit year. Saturday produced a fruit tear like none we had ever attempted with Erica, Carl, Marie and volunteers old and new, plus Frank from MEND, helping them pick their way through over a half dozen properties – with every single piece of fruit going to someone in need. All setting the stage for today to take us to the very satisfying round 100,000 lb mark. Yes, dedication…and a wee bit of insanity mixed in for good measure.
It was a year ago today that myself and a lone volunteer, Karin, who had responded to an ad on Craigslist, gleaned 85 lbs of tangerines off my pal Heather’s tree in the damp cold – with little idea of even how to pick the fruit, let alone how to pack it. Today, over a dozen and a half of our core team, new pick leaders in training, family and spouses returned to Heather’s backyard and the tree where it all began, to complete the harvesting and delivery of our fiftieth ton of fresh free fruit for the hungry of Southern CA. Inspiring indeed.
I feel so lucky to be able to have led this amazing clan, and with them build a brand new non-profit from 2 volunteers to over 900 – in the worst economy since the great depression – all on a miniscule budget of money but an amazing surplus of human spirit. Nearly a hundred picks under our belts – the volume, support and good will we have experienced is truly humbling…and now leads us to year two.
Big properties, new volunteers and pantry partners are all there. As we go through some (but hopefully not too drastic) growing pains and enter year two, I know I speak for Erica, Marie and Carl when I say “THANKS!!” to all – SOVA, MEND, our funders, volunteers, fruitanthropists, our families… for helping Food Forward truly become the community grassroots organization it now is.
Time to toast – once or twice…
Bravo Crew :))